Saturday, August 23, 2014

Utah August 2014 Part One- True Story

I know that when you read part one in a title of a post you roll your eyes. It's just that I have so many feelings….

 Three weeks ago I put my sister, my 5 kids, 3 of our bikes and the puppy in the car and drove from VA to UT. I am heading home in about a week making this the longest and most needed vacation/non-vacation I have ever taken. 

  When I had been here two days something happened that made me say out loud, "Aw man! I've only been here two days and the highlight of the trip has already happened!"

 Well, I'm happy to report that there have been many highlights, but I wanted to share this one. It was a story from my dad. 

 My dad and I were walking through Costco which could have been a highlight itself. I adore my dad and the Utah Costcos are amazing. Really, they have better stuff here. But it gets better. 

 We pass the dress shirts and my dad says that he wants to try to look for a replacement shirt because he ruined one. 

"How did you ruin it?" I ask. 




"I fell.

off a segway

in East Hampton

in front of my former boss and a bunch of nuclear physicists."





And it was a totally true story. How, I ask, can things get any better after an explanation like that?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Who needs a house out in Hackensack?

I always wanted to marry someone who loved rollerblading and Billy Joel. 


  I'm sucha sucker for XM radio. I keep trying to cancel, but they offer me a tiny discount that makes me come back every time. Right now I have the Billy Joel channel going nonstop. Pete reminds me all the time how lame that is, but I don't care. I really really love Billy Joel. I always have. And it's pretty cool to listen to Billy Joel Radio because it has made me realize what a megafan I am. There are maybe 3 song that I don't know by heart. 

This station has really taken me down memory lane, and I'd like to invite you to come with me . . . Two of my favorite dates of the 90's both involved rollerblading in Provo. Okay, I know what you're thinking, I'll answer your questions up front. No, neither of these dates were with Peter, he is too cool for rollerblading, and yes, I said 90's, not 80's. One of these dates was with a cool kid who turned out to be a cool lifelong friend, Spencer. The other date was with another BYU friend, let's call him Schmon. Ah, forget it, his real name was Jon. Jon was the big man on campus. I know what you're thinking. The big man on campus was into rollerblading? And to that question I will respond, shut-up this is my story. He was fun and cute, and he had a cabin nearby that he would invite people to sometimes. Anyway, the summer after freshman year, Jon called and asked me out. I was thrilled. He picked me up and didn't have a plan, so we brainstormed, and decided to go to dinner, do rollerblading, and then go up to his cabin. Awesome! 

We got in Jon's car and started to drive. He turned on the music in his car, and what did he start to play? Billy Joel's greatest hits. He was a megafan like me. It was the funnest! We drove for an hour, blasting Billy Joel and singing at the top of our lungs. I felt the warm summer air, and that indescribable feeling of being young and feeling totally in the moment. There is nothing better. 

I know, you're thinking that this is weird, cause I am writing about a great date that I had with someone who is not Peter. Just wait. 

Jon and I got to Provo and were starving. So we decided to eat at a place that we both loved. Training Table of course. I was starving and never afraid of eating in front of a date, so I ordered a huge hamburger, a giant Dr. Pepper and cheese fries. After we ate, we strapped on the rollerblades. We went by Wills Pit Stop and headed up to Bridal Veil Falls. He was fast, and I had to work hard to keep up with him. But I really wanted to impress him so whatever. 

Okay, I think I've painted a decent picture of the evening but I'm getting sort of sick of this story so I'll just wrap it up. We finished rollerblading and headed up to his cabin. I was hoping that we would make out, but the combination of rollerblading, and cheese fries didn't sit well with me and I got a massive attack of diarrhea at the cabin. The small, poorly ventilated cabin with old unreliable plumbing. 

We didn't stay at the cabin long, and we drove straight home, with no Billy Joel playing.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Motherhood

I know that this is like really 3 months ago, but I was thinking about Gwyneth Paltrow's epic attack on all mothers the other day and it got me to thinking about all of the different mothers in my own life.  

As a 21 year old mother, I had this idea in my head that the moms who loved their kids the most, were the ones who didn't work, who stayed home with their kids. 13 years, another coast, and a sort of job later, I don't believe that any more. Here in Vienna Virginia, I am surrounded by all types of mothers. Working moms, stay at home moms, single moms, married moms, religious moms, moms with lots of kids, moms  few kids, moms of kids who go to daycare, moms of kids with au-pairs, home school moms, PTA moms, moms who like kids, moms who don't like kids. Did I leave anyone out? Now, I assume that the mommy war is alive and well. The battle of opinions about what is best for kids, but I am lucky enough to be living in a mom bubble right now. The mothers in my community want no part of that battle.  We have come to the same conclusion that it doesn't matter who you are, if you are a mom, you probably go to bed feeling guilty about something every night, so you should help out and cut slack. It really is wonderful here. There is a mother up the street, who knows that I have several children and a husband who works all the time, she doesn't care that this is a choice I have made, she just does what she can to help, Her au-pair drives Jonah to swim practice every day because it makes my life easier, In turn, every so often, I take the neighbor children to the bus stop every once in a while when their mother has an early work meeting. The moms in my pre-school group, have just as many children and busy husbands like I do, but they routinely bail me out of my poor time management mistakes. I want to make sure that I express my gratitude for the mothers who surround me who are kind and selfless toward me and my children, when they could easily make me feel more guilty about my choices than I already do. My life is full of friendships with other moms who consistently give each other the benefit of the doubt and look for ways to help one another when it would be easier to just take care of themselves.

  That's not to say the the mom community on the East Coast is perfect, it has it's flaws. I am routinely given unsolicited advice about the things my kids do in public, which is a charming trait of many high-strung D.C.-area-ites. Yes, ma'am I know that my child is sweating profusely. Yes, my son does always smell like this, yes I know that I shouldn't buy a 1 year old a churro at 10AM. No I don't know how my son got to school and realized that he forgot his shoes. But you know what? I have been surrounded by such great people who have given me the benefit of the doubt when I didn't deserve it, that I have learned to give others the benefit of the doubt too. Do you know what I've learned? That when I  assume that silly advice comes from a place of well meaning, I am much happier.

  Now, I know that my bubble is probably an exception, and that there are other moms who's own mom guilt is piled on top of with more guilt from other moms. There are comments made, pressures exerted, blogs posted, and looks given every day that deliberately intend to make other mothers feel guilty about their choices, and you know what? I mean, my whole blog was started because of a strong visceral reaction to mommy bloggers passive aggressive utopian posts. The battle is stupid.

 I have noticed something recently in the stores, when I see a child having a meltdown, I feel for them, I do. There is nothing worse than having a shopping trip ruined by a screaming kid. It is embarrassing, it can come without any warning, it makes you feel like a failure. I always try to catch the mother's eye. If the exasperated mother looks at me, I say, "I've been there sister, Hang in there!" and then look for some way to help. But you  know what? These moms never look at me. They keep their head down and avoid my gaze, because they feel alone. It makes me sad, but I get it.





 This clip is very near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. First, in high school, I had a huge crush on a boy, a basketball player, who was nicknamed "Shooter McGavin" because he spoke of himself in the third person, and because of the 'shooter' sign he did with his fingers every time he made a shot. I call him, the one that got away . . .  but I digress. I also love this clip because when I hear Adam Sandler saying, "I was on this tour for one reason, money. But now I got a new reason, kickin' your ass!" I think that there is a lot we can learn. Often times, we go through life doing something because we've been told it's the right thing to do, and then something happens, a switch flips inside, and all of the sudden, even though the end goal is the same, our motive shifts and we want to do it better. So maybe that's how it is with being a citizen of motherhood. We are civil to the other moms around us because it's the right thing to do, but maybe we could all try a little harder to not only cut each other some slack, but to make a lighten the burden of another mother.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I don't think so

After two 19 hour days in a row, I am exhausted. Zeke just trotted over to me with a chipper look in his eyes and a ball in his mouth, wanting to play a lively game of fetch. It was the dog sent me over the limit of what I was willing to do for other people today and I said out loud to him, "I don't think so." And then completely reflexively, the next words that came out of my mouth were, and this is real life here, "Homey don't play that." And then I lost it. Several minutes of hysterical laughter, as a rush of memories from the 90's came from out of no where. I don't know where Homey the Clown came from, but I  had to run to youtube to show my kids what all the laughing was about. 



My kids watched the clip, stoned faced, which made the whole thing even more funny. And I laughed all over again, at the randomness of the memory.


  It sort of reminded me of a quote about involuntary laughter from my latest read, Dracula. Still working on the Media Diet by the way.

"It is a strange world, a sad world, a world full of miseries, and woes, and troubles. And yet when King Laugh come, he make them all dance to the tune he play. Bleeding hearts, and dry bones of the church yard, and tears that burn as they fall, all dance together to the music that he make with that smile less mouth of him, Ah, we men and women are like the rain on the ropes, they brace us up, until perhaps the strain become too great, and we break. But King Laugh he come like the sunshine, and he ease off the strain again, and we bear to go on with our labor, what it may be."

Yeah, I just compared my life to a doctor trying to keep a vampire from taking over thee village and killing all thee wemens. It makes perfect sense to me.

p.s. Have you seen footage of J.Lo as a flygirl lately? Anyone else think she looks like John Leguizamo?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You Retarded? No You Are.


Okay, so before I begin a post which I think might am sure will offend a lot of people. I want to just try to earn a little credibility here. I have 4 dear friends, one of them a co-worker, with children on the autism spectrum. My two best friends both have an aunt with Down Syndrome. Another very close life long friend has a daughter with Down Syndrome. I am good friends with several of special education and resource teachers who I know are in the trenches every day. And I have a daughter with a disability. Hers is mild, and there is no reason to believe that she won't go on to have a long and happy life, but there are days when I'm not sure if she will ever be able to live on her own. I know that my struggles and heartaches pale in comparison to the others in my life who have a member of their family with a disability. But I know what that pain feels like. 

Even without this life experience, I was raised from a young age to treat others with kindness and respect. I have spent all of my adult life being aware of appropriate labels. People aren't autistic. They have autism. The same goes for Down Syndrome. When referring to someone with a disability, I go out of my way, to phrase my words in such a way that it is clear that one is not defined by their disability. I know it doesn't seem like a big deal. Maybe you think I'm splitting hairs. But I only needed to be called a "seizure mom" once before I realized that making certain clarifications are important. 

Not only that, but I am really proud of my kids who see everyone the same. They look for others who are lonely and hurting and reach out to them. My kids have been known to be the only ones who will sit by another child who makes a mess when he or she eats. When others are disgusted, my children are helpful and kind. They use appropriate labels as well.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm hypersensitive about this stuff, okay? And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. In fact I know I'm not alone. I have learned a lot from friends about how to be kind and open minded. In my experience, most people are good people. And most people have been raised with good manners and they choose their words carefully when it comes to referring to people with disablilites.  And I'm grateful for it. Sure it makes things complicated.  But I'm not saying anything that everyone doesn't already know. In my experience, most of us are careful. 

 That is why I am a little confused about the "Spread The Word To End The Word," campaign. If you haven't heard of it, do a quick youtube search. One can pull up dozens of heartfelt PSA's that will remind you to be extra sensitive, because this is important.  And there are so many of them, that I guess this is still a problem? But really, who are these losers who are still calling kids with disabilities retarded?  That is a sincere question, I am genuinely curious.

While I appreciate any effort to raise awareness, I prefer the Louis CK Approach. Wait wait. Please, don't click on that link it contains explicit language. I am specifically talking to my Aunt Amy, My grandmother, my Bishop, and my brother Dallin and maybe my Dad. Mom, you can go ahead and watch. Everyone else, if you are really curious but want to avoid the really bad stuff, just watch the first 20 seconds, you'll get the gist. 

I'm thinking of starting up a campaign that is much more nuanced. We would be essentially taking back the word retard. I've already done it in my home and it has gone over quite well. Do you know when the last time my sweet tolerant socially conscious kids heard the word 'retard?' It was probably this morning. They hear the word occasionally and they don't associate it at all with a person who might have a disability. They associate the word retarded with stupidity. 

Examples: 

*Jonah brushes his teeth and then comes down stairs and eats 9 Oreos= Retarded. 

*Every day the bus driver, who I am feuding with, stops the bus 25 feet away from me regardless of where I am on the sidewalk, just so she can have the satisfaction of watching me walk to the bus so that I will remember who's really in charge.= Retarded

*When he hears a woman say, "I'm on maternity leave," Peter responds with, "Oh, when are you due?"= the baby was born 2 months ago, what are you, retarded?

*When you are in college, and have the opportunity to learn about anything under the sun, you choose to spend 3 hours a week taking a racquetball class because, "The goggles are hilarious." And then you get an 'F.'
Emily hates this word, but, retarded.

*Eliza, being told to go upstairs and get her shoes on, but instead she comes down wearing her pajamas= This is tricky, if it is because she get preoccupied with selfies, well that's retarded. But if she has a small seizure on her way up the stairs and gets confused. That's not retarded, that's just Eliza doing the best she can. 

*My brother Elliot leaving Chinese food in his back pack for 3 days and then deciding to eat it. 
=Retarded

* I don't know who you are, but I'll figure it out. 
'cause you're retarded.


*Peter announcing that he hates spaghetti but he loves linguini, as he eats the spaghetti that I told him was linguini.= Retarded.

*Half the recipes on pinterest= Retarded.

* People who say, "Cray Cray."= Retarded

* The finale of Lost= Retarded

* Some insecure moron at school seeing another student with a disability and calling them a retard= Retarded. 

I could go on forever but I think you get the point. So who's with me?  I want a real effort to disassociate the word retarded from people who have disabilities. There may be reasons why this is a really bad idea, I know. I can't think of them, but I'm sure I haven't thought through this enough to actually post it. But the word is just so descriptive. And if we outlaw retarded, then kids will just come up with other mean words. Instead let's keep retarded and use the word against people who use the word inappropriately. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Bruh

Dear David...


Remember that time mom went somewhere and left you in charge of paying the pizza man? (Those were the days when you could leave a 12 year old home alone in charge of 4 other kids and not worry about a pizza man) Okay so mom gave you $23 and said, "The $20 is for the pizza and the extra is for a tip." And when the pizza man came, and asked for $19.88 you said, "Hey pizza man, the $3 is a tip but I want change for the $20." And then the rest of us about died laughing while the pizza man gave you 12 cents in change and left. 

I know that won't seem funny to anyone who isn't a Scruggs. But in our family, the glue that keeps us together if the fact that no one gets to live anything down. No one.  Except me. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

YAOATOTG (You are only a tween once, thank goodness)

Because I had three kids in thirty-five months, there is one month a year when my older kids' ages line up like steps. Right now, Eliza, Shea and Jonah are, 12,11 and 10. It is as crazy as it sounds around here. I don't really know how to say this, but, life with tween kids is actually a total nightmare. Remember how miserable it was to be in middle school? Okay, picture going through middle school all over again, except this time you are totally paralyzed, and helpless. And that's the best way for me to describe what it feels like to be a mother of a middle-schooler. It is absolutely gut wrenching. And I'm in the car every day from 4-8. (That's not really relevant, I am just on a roll with the complaining.)

I don't remember much of middle school, that's by choice. But I remember that in high school I was awesome, all the time. And totally funny. Like double over gut busting hilarious. That is a totally accurate statement. From my point of view at least. I don't remember being mean, I don't remember being particularly nice either, but that's beside the point. Then a few years ago, my bff came into contact with someone I knew in high school. I had a couple of classes with this person, and though we never hung out, I would have considered us friends. But when this person met my bff, she said, "You are such a nice person, I can't picture you being friends with Angela." What? Maybe I wasn't as great as I thought I was. Or maybe if you aren't paying attention to the people around you, it doesn't matter how awesome you are. Shame on me. I don't remember doing anything mean to anyone. But I don't really remember looking around me to try to be a good friend either. And it wasn't as if I didn't have good examples. I was surrounded by people who were kind and loyal. I am embarrassed that I never paid it forward. 

Since then, I have made it my mission in life, to have kids who turn out better than me. I try to tell them as often as I can, "Find someone who looks like they could use a friend." and "There is always someone lonelier than you. Find that person."  I don't know if I'm getting through. And when you have kids who are lonely and hurting, that can be tough advice to give. But that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Isn't this a nice heartwarming post? Well, I was looking through some photos of last year and I stumbled onto a screen shot I took on Halloween of a ridiculous convo (that's what these youths are calling conversations these days) between Eliza's friends on insta. Forget everything I just said. I have no idea what I'm doing or how to raise kids in this social media age. 



And by the way, our neighborhood is no place for a child on Halloween. First, the all the parents meet at someones house for wine and pizza and they get totally wasted, then they all rent golf carts and drive their kids around to trick-or-treat. You wouldn't want them burning any candy calories. And to finish the night, they wrap things up at another house, where there is a big bonfire, and more drinking. Alcohol, motorized vehicles, children, fire. It is magical.